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Henderson boy with autism found in metal cage, parents arrested

Updated April 25, 2024 - 3:21 pm

A Henderson couple were arrested after police found a boy with autism locked in a “makeshift jail cell,” and their three other children living in a home smeared with feces, according to arrest reports.

Misty Scanlan, 46, and Jeffery Scanlan, 41, were booked into the Henderson Detention Center on Tuesday on one count of felony child abuse and neglect.

It wasn’t clear how long the child had been kept in the cage, but his father told investigators that they had installed the enclosure about six years ago because of (a child’s) behavior, according to police.

One of their other children also has autism, police said.

The Scanlans have each posted a $5,000 bond, according to court records, which note that they had bailed out before a judge finished evaluating the arrest reports.

Officers from the Henderson and Clark County School District police departments showed up to the family home in the 2000 block of Silverton Drive after the four children hadn’t attended classes for several days.

The parents said that flu-like symptoms had kept them at their home, near Wigwam Parkway, west of Valley Verde Drive, according to police.

Upon knocking on the door, officers heard a “child screaming and a gate rattling inside,” police said.

Jeffery Scanlan came to the door about 40 minutes later and allowed police inside.

The 11-year-old boy in the cage was only wearing a diaper, police wrote in an arrest report.

Police described a house, which smelled like feces, in “extreme disarray.”

In interviews, two other children told investigators differing accounts: One said that the cage had been in the house for two weeks, and another said for two years, the report said.

Jeffery Scanlan told police that the boy had autism, was “big and strong” and that “he can be very aggressive when he wants something,” the report said.

The parents said they would clean the house regularly but hadn’t been able to “in a couple of weeks,” police said.

Asked why they hadn’t sought resources for their children with autism, the man told police that the school had directed them but that they didn’t know where to start.

Misty Scanlan told police that the programs didn’t accept their health insurance.

The boy in the cage was hospitalized, while the other three children, who appeared to be OK, were now staying with family of Misty Scanlan, police said.

“Based upon my initial observations,” a detective wrote in the report, “there was reason to believe that the children in the house were not receiving proper care and had been placed in an environment where their health was at risk of being harmed and may suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering as a result of neglect.”

The couple are due in court May 15, according to court records, which do not list an attorney for them.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Review-Journal digital content producer Marvin Clemons contributed to this report.

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